Reunion with Pettitte, Clemens on tap for Jeter
HOUSTON -- The buzz was back in the Yankees' clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon. After a seven-week gauntlet of Spring Training and then a workout day at Minute Maid Park, the club is finally ready to lace up and start the 2014 season.
"I think we're all excited," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought we had a very good Spring Training, and then you leave Spring Training on Saturday and you have to wait a couple of days to play. I think there's anticipation. Obviously, the games in Spring Training mean something in a sense where guys are trying to get ready and guys are trying to make the team, but this is where it really counts. Guys look forward to that competition."
This marks the 112th season in franchise history, and the Yankees entered Tuesday holding a 63-47-1 record on Opening Day. They had lost four of their last five openers, including last year to the Red Sox, but had won six of their last 11, dating back to 2003.
"We're excited about the group we have here now," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "We have a lot of talent, but you have to go out on the field and play. It's a long season, so I'm not ever one to get into predictions or comparisons. We had a good spring, and now we're hoping to have a good season."
This campaign, of course, will carry the 162-game subplot of Jeter's farewell tour. Jeter will take part in the first of many pregame ceremonies on Wednesday in Houston, with Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens expected to be on hand.
General manager Brian Cashman does not sense that the team has any added urgency to win just because it is Jeter's last season.
"I think Jeter would be offended if somebody said, 'We've got to rally around Jeets,'" Cashman said. "We're rallying around the effort of trying to win a championship on a yearly basis. He represents that more than anybody."
Girardi said that because Jeter watched the careers of Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada come to their respective ends over the last few seasons, Girardi expects that Jeter will be able to enjoy this last lap through a big league schedule.
"It's definitely his last Opening Day, so I will watch carefully to see how he's handling it and to remind him, 'You really need to enjoy this,'" Girardi said. "It's hard to take your uniform off. The one thing about Derek is, he really enjoys playing the game, but I want him to soak up some of the other things as well."